By Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa
Published in the Detroit News, Oct. 6, 2021
Congress is on the cusp of taking action to implement President Biden’s Build Back Better Plan which will put our country on a path toward not just recovery, but prosperity. American workers have been repeatedly cast aside by ruling political elites in Washington who have decided to support policies backed by big campaign donors and other monied interests. But that can change right now.
Two measures that would fuel economic growth and give a needed hand to hardworking Americans – a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill – are before lawmakers now. And if elected officials want to follow through on their campaign promises made last year, they need to approve both quickly.
The infrastructure bill, previously approved in a bipartisan vote in the Senate, would fund the necessary rebuilding of roads, rails, airports, mass transit, electrical grids and water systems. It is something lawmakers from both parties have said they wanted for years, and it is time they actually follow through and get it done.
The other piece of legislation, known as the Build Back Better Act, is admittedly more contentious, but no less necessary. The Biden administration carefully crafted this “human infrastructure” measure to raise up workers who have been left behind in Wall Street’s profiteering in recent years that has enriched company executives.
Why is the approval of Biden’s Build Back Better agenda essential? Because working Americans have received the short end of the stick for too long. Under the previous administration, the wealthy and big business were rewarded with unnecessary tax cuts while those living paycheck-to-paycheck were left to their own devices.
It’s time to change that path, and the White House is leading the way. The administration seeks to restore economic fairness by expanding child care for working parents, the child tax credit, and paid family and medical leave among other things. Dollars would also be poured into creating new jobs that also preserve the environment, like increased spending for Amtrak.
All of this, however, costs money. Luckily, President Biden has a plan for that as well, one that will shield all but the wealthiest of Americans from tax increases to cover these necessary programs. In fact, it will actually lower taxes for some 50 million U.S. families!
To be clear, Build Back Better won’t raise taxes on Americans earning under $400,000 and will repeal tax giveaways to the rich and corporate America approved under the last administration. These are necessary steps for the president to deliver tax cuts for ordinary families and make much-needed investments that will aid in economic growth.
But instead of moving on these changes, too many in Congress are throwing up roadblocks. The time for these political machinations is over. American needs to upgrade its infrastructure and it needs to invest in working families who are struggling under the burden getting their jobs done on a daily basis while caring for loved ones at home.
These are not new ideas. In fact, the Roosevelt Institute – on whose board I serve – has previously raised many of them. Our nation needs good-paying jobs and a culture change that supports those on the job. It must happen now.